Grant: Dr. Amanda Foks receives a prestigious Junior Postdoc fellowship from the Dr. E. Dekker stipendium awarded by the Dutch Heart Foundation.
Dr. Foks obtained this fellowship for the project “Can promotion of efferocytosis induce regression of atherosclerosis?”, in which she aims to identify novel targets to promote regression of atherosclerosis. This research grant allows her to initiate independent research for the next three years.
- Dr. Amanda Foks
- 04 August 2016
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality worldwide and are generally triggered by rupture of an atherosclerotic lesion. Atherosclerosis is characterized by the progressive narrowing of medium and large-sized arteries by formation of lesions, which are caused by the combination of lipid accumulation and immune processes in the arterial wall. Current treatment consisting of statins and lifestyle advice is inadequate to induce regression of atherosclerotic lesions, indicating an urgent need for new therapeutic strategies to inhibit atherosclerosis.
Removal of dead cells, such as bacteria or virus-infected cells, is essential for maintenance of homeostasis and prevention of autoimmunity. Dying or apoptotic cells can be recognized by different ‘eat me’ signals and undergo a rapid and silent removal (efferocytosis) without causing inflammation. However, in late stages of atherosclerosis, the clearance of apoptotic cells, or efferocytosis, is defective, causing the formation of unstable lesions. In this project Dr. Foks will explore whether restoration of the removal of dead cells can prevent progression and induce regression of atherosclerosis. This research will enhance our current understanding on the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and is expected to provide profound information on the suitability of intervening in efferocytosis and adaptive immune responses as a possible novel therapeutic strategy to inhibit atherosclerosis.
The Dr. E. Dekker-program
Each year the Dutch Heart Foundation assigns dr. Dekker grants to selected talented young scientists, who have recently been awarded their PhD. The Dutch Heart Foundation funding allows researchers to develop their ideas over a period of three years.